Happy Hanukkah!

I’m going out to dinner for Italian food. It’s made with a lot of olive oil, so I’m not a bad Jew.

After all these years, I Have Been Absorbed

After spending my entire life NOT owning one and being rather smug about it for the past several years, I finally had to give in and get a smart phone.

I kept an old-school flip phone in my car strictly for emergencies (and used it a few times, actually), but that was it. If you wanted to reach me, you called my house or used email.

And that will still be the case – I’m only getting the thing since a phone app is the only way, evidently, to manage a Tesla house battery, something that will be added to Rancho Del Wagstaff in the near future.

Tesla doesn’t let you log into a website and see the control panel of the thing, it’s only on a phone. I’ll have to monitor it’s recharging and certainly need the ability to tweak its usage if it’s powering my house during a power outage, especially the ones those BASTARDS induce on purpose during wind events so that they can try to avoid lawsuits for starting fires with equipment they’ve neglected for years (while raking in tons of profits) in forested areas this STUPID FUCKING STATE refuses to brush-clear and tree trim properly because they might make some stupid flea-bitten rabid farting forest dwelling mouse upset.

That’s what I’m really up against here. I thought about heading up this post with a “One of us, one of us” theme with a picture of the banquet from “Freaks,” but since I’m doing all of this because I’m at the mercy of the stupid pod people who run this stupid state and its institutions, I went with being in Veronica Cartwright’s place at the end of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”

Although in California, I think it’s been Invasion of the Common Sense Snatchers.

So now I’ll have a smart phone. The thing has a camera better than my li’l $10-at-a-yardsale digital camera. Maybe I’ll start up an instagram author page to go with this blog. Who knows, we’ll see. The one sure thing is that i’ll keep bitching about everything. The only area I can think of where I’ll use the phone outside of battery monitoring will be to quickly look up the value of books or other crap I spot at yardsales and thrift stores. No more rolling the dice as to whether something will be flipable on ebay, I guess.

In any case, I’ll feel like I’ve caught up to living in 2008.

My preferred set up

Tonic Water Adventures

It’s not easy to be a healthy drinker.

When I needed to cut carbs out of my diet, it meant cutting down on my consumption of beer. I used to be pretty much a beer ‘n’ wine guy, depending on whatever I had for dinner. Italian food? Wine. Chinese, Indian? Beer. BBQ, pizza, American? Well, either, really.

When I wanted to maintain variety and not drink wine every night, I figured I could work in some cocktails into the rotation, since I also enjoy having a drink while I cook as well as matching a drink with my meal.

So I learned which whiskeys I like, and how I like them (rather simply) with water or seltzer and a little lemon.

But I also love tonic water – the sweet/sour flavor of it, as well as that hard-to-pin-down quinine flavoring. I prefer gin to vodka, so gin & tonics have served as a nice drink to have now and then….

…. but while I found various gins that I like (and I can get giant Tanqueray bottles at Costco, yay!), it’s been the tonic water that has been the bane of my existence.

Why?

HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP.

Yes, the EVIL that is HFCS turns up in nearly EVERY brand of tonic water. I’d totally cut out soda from my diet to help with weight loss. And regardless of what the science is behind cane sugar versus high fructose corn syrup, I’m willing to settle with the mere FEELING that HFCS is WAY worse for my metabolism than regular cane sugar.

And I can tell the difference in flavor – Mexican Coca-Cola, made with cane sugar, tastes superior to the HFCS version normally available.

And judging from the way they market Mexican Coke as well as other cane sodas, I’m not alone.

So where is the cane sugar tonic water?

For a while, Trader Joes sold a tonic water under their own label with cane sugar – and then stopped, those BASTARDS.

There’s a cane sugar tonic water made for Whole Foods – it’s not bad, but it’s pretty sweet, and my G&Ts have a candy-esque quality to them/

Recently I discovered Fever Tree tonic water – it’s a little pricier even when found in the supermarket or Target or Wal-Mart, but it uses lower amounts of sweetener, doesn’t use HFCS, and doesn’t overwhelm the flavor of the gin or lime I add to my G&Ts. So I’d highly recommend the stuff.

I’m tempted to try their other mixers now. And considering how cheap & set in my ways I am, that’s saying a lot.

Small Rodent CSI Needed

The big mouse/baby rat who perished last night in my previous post presents a mystery. Turns out he was NOT poisoned, or killed in the library by Colonel Mustard with the revolver.

This morning I dug him a small grave among the rosemary in my backyard, and (I love saying this) upon examining the body, it turns out he had a small but most likely deep puncture wound on the left side of his little throat under the chin. He most likely bled out from it, or it possibly also punctured his windpipe. It must have taken him hours to die. Ugh.

I did NOT do an autopsy.

I looked all around the area of the house where he first turned up, an area walled and gated off – no sign of any stray nail or the like where the poor little guy may have impaled himself. No blood on any of the screens blocking attic vents. There are probably some sharp edges inside my dryer vent, but that has a little door on it and I saw no signs of trouble there.

What kind of animal attack would produce one fatal wound and leave him to die without eating him?

Do rats fight and kill each other for dominance? And if so, why no scratches or a double wound from a pair of fangs?

Could some fight with a bird have done it? One good peck in that spot could be a killer, though the mouse would have to be on his back for it.

Did he owe a crow money?

It’s a real mystery. Theories welcome.

Good News & Sad News

I’ll start with the GOOD news – one of the greatest awful-yet-entertaining movies of all time is FINALLY getting its DVD release.

Kino-Lorber has announced that The Oscar from 1966 is getting a full 4K restoration, as well as commentary tracks from Patton Oswalt, Erik Nelson and Josh Olsen for Hollywood snark, as well as a track from film historians Howard S. Berger, Steve Mitchell and Nathaniel Thompson.

I wrote about the wonders of this film several years ago, so please click on the link to read why you NEED to buy this DVD when it’s released in February.

Harlan Ellison is unfortunately not around to add an audio commentary track, but it looks like the Kino people have consulted his widow, Susan, and hopefully got a lot of material to work with.

I think Jill St. John and Tony Bennett are the only surviving cast members.

The sad news? Well, I just went outside to throw some trash out, and sitting next to my recycling trash can was a cute little rat who looked like he was dying. Totally out of it, barely reacted to me, and it looked from the little puddle of dried piss under his butt that he may have been out there a while.

Maybe one of my neighbors put down some rat poison, in which case I’ll have to make sure to throw him in my grass clippings bin once he’s finally dead to avoid anything up the food chain also stroking out.

Or maybe he’s just depressed and giving up on everything, sitting next to my bin and thinking “Oh go ahead, just kill me and eat me, giant monkey boy” when I threw the trash out.

I feel pretty bad about not doing anything for him. My impulse is to help a sick animal, but it’s probably best to just let nature take its course here. No signs of rats in my house or trying to chew their way in, that’s good. Not sure where a food supply for the little bastard would be, either, since my apple tree’s production days are long months ago.

Poor thing.

UPDATE: I have been informed that Elke Sommer is still alive. And I can inform you that the cute little rat (or large mouse… I really can’t tell) finally died and is out of its misery.

Friday Art: Cat And Traffic by Wayne Thiebaud (1983)

Thiebaud is a pop artist who mostly paints cakes and pastries and bubble gum in candy colors, but he’s also branched out into other subjects to apply that bright color palette to.

I dealt with one of the elements of this painting for more hours than I wanted to today and not the one I’d choose. Traffic sucks. And I could spend endless hours with the cat.

I like the dreamscape like quality of this – the rising towers based on San Francisco skyline combined with curving traffic lanes and colorful cars that resemble a winding slot car set wrapping around Lego towers.

All observed on that balcony by the little black and white cat. Maybe it is a toy set, and the cat is stalking the moving toy cars. My cat did that to my Hot Wheels cars when I was a kid, after all.

Such a simple and pretty concept well executed, and – hey look! – Thiebaud sold this one for EIGHT HUNDRED NINETY THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS????

Jesus… I really should learn to paint.

Football Picks: Weekend of November 2-3, 2019

I skipped picks last week with all the distractions, plus doing pretty badly the week before. Season totals stand at a you-may-as-well-flip-a-coin 39-38-3.

But with a lot of work done and other crap dealt with, it’s time to plunge back in and see what happens. I’m trying to be stricter in throwing possible bets out, so let’s see if that has a positive effect.

In the college games:

Pittsburgh by 7 over Georgia Tech

Cincinnati by 23 1/2 over East Carolina (the secret 51st state)

Kansas State by 4 1/2 over Kansas

LA Lafayette by 22 1/2 over Texas State

SMU plus 5 1/2 against Memphis (a good matchup)

Oregon State plus 5 1/2 against Arizona (probably my iffiest one, tbh)

In the NFL:

Jaguars plus 1 1/2 against the Texans

Panthers by 3 over the Titans

Colts by 1 over the Steelers

Packers by 3 1/2 over the Chargers

I also think the Patriots will win out over the Ravens in what’s probably the best game of the week. Will they cover the 3 1/2 or just win by a field goal? I’m figuring they cover or just lose it outright, to be honest…. so I’ll go with cover! The power of positive thinking.

Friday Art: Wild Horses by Rosa Bonheur (1889)

I didn’t bet the first day of the Breeders’ Cup Races today, but I’ll be handicapping and betting the final pick 6 sequence tomorrow, most likely with a pick 5 and pick 4 combo along with some bets on the 12th classic race too. The Triple Crown races get a lot more attention, but these feature the best overall horses in the world, the best up and coming prospects, and are VERY challenging to handicap.

So it’s time to flush some money away, I guess.

Rosa Bonheur was one of the better-known animal painters of the late 19th century. While well known in her native France, she found a lot more success in Britain and America, and in her late career painted settings right at home in the American west, like this one.

All we need is for John Wayne or Jimmy Stewart to walk up to that horse, talk to it a little, and then ride off to fight some bad guys. Look how she uses those different shades of brown to capture the musculature of a strong horse like that, and the way you see it reflected in the different shines of the coat. Nice purples in the sky, too. It’s a beautiful picture.

I hope my bets are as beautiful tomorrow. Tally ho!

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